An airbag includes end panels sewn onto opposite ends of the airbag. The end panels include side tabs and a center tab. The side tabs hook onto a retainer. The center tab is sewn to the airbag adjacent the opening in the retainer to pull the airbag against the concave inner surface of the retainer, thereby eliminating bunching and folding of airbag material at the interface of the retainer and inflator.
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This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Ser. No. 11/343,992, filed Jan. 31, 2006 now U.S. Pat. No. 7,654,556.BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to an airbag.
Passenger airbag modules typically include a housing having spaced apart side walls connected to one another by a rear wall. Some passenger airbag modules include a generally cylindrical inflator retained in the housing by a semi-cylindrical retainer through which large holes are formed. The opening in the airbag fits around the retainer and is secured to the housing and the inflator by the retainer. However, around the cylindrical inflator, the material in the airbag can become bunched up or folded in an uncontrolled manner between the retainer and inflator. This can create gaps between the retainer and inflator through which the inflator gas may pass.SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
An airbag according to the present invention provides an improved fit in the airbag module by conforming to the curved interior surface of the retainer before it is assembled over the inflator. In an example embodiment, the airbag includes end panels sewn onto opposite ends of the airbags. The end panels include side tabs and a center tab. The side tabs hook onto the retainer. The center tab is sewn to the airbag adjacent the opening in the retainer to pull the airbag against the concave inner surface of the retainer, thereby eliminating bunching and folding of airbag material at the interface of the retainer and inflator.
Other advantages of the present invention can be understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:
A passenger airbag module 10 is shown in
Each end wall 16 includes a mounting tab 36 projecting outwardly from an upper edge. Each end wall 16 further includes an arched opening 38 at its lower edge between a pair of snap-fit end tabs 40. The side edges of each end wall 16 include U-shaped channels 42 opening inwardly toward one another. Complementary outwardly opening U-shaped channels 46 are formed on end edges of the side walls 14 of the housing 12.
As can be seen in
The side walls 14 each include a plurality of inward projections 56 stamped therein. The projections 56 are generally semi-cylindrical and could extend continuously across the entire length of the side walls 14, but preferably are spaced intermittently to provide selected, controlled contact. Slots 58 are formed through the housing 12 below the projections 56.
Although the airbag 20 (not shown in
In the example module 10 shown, the legs 32 of the retainer 26 are inserted through the slots 58 in the housing 12 as shown in
The assembly of
The arms 102 push the horizontal bars 104 toward one another, thereby bending or deforming the side walls 14 upward to a generally parallel position as shown in
The end walls 16 are then slid into position by aligning the channels 42 on the end walls 16 with the channels 46 on the side walls 14. As the end walls 16 are pushed downwardly, the snap-fit end tabs 40 snap onto end snap-tabs 57 on the housing 12 to retain the end walls 16 to the housing 12.
As shown, the L-shaped legs 32 extending through the slots 58 and the housing 12 additionally secure the retainer 26 (and thereby the inflator 18) within the housing 12. A deformable end tab 76 is formed at the opposite axial end of the housing 12 to contact the opposite end of the inflator 18 to define the axial position of the inflator 18. Complementary locating features, such as ribs or flanges, may also be formed on the underside of the retainer 26 and the outer surface of the inflator 18 to define and preserve axial location.
As shown, a mounting bracket 78 may be stamped into the rear wall 48 of the housing 12. The mounting bracket 78 may include apertures 80 for connecting to the vehicle, although different methods of attachment of the housing in the vehicle can be used.
The airbag 20 provides a better fit to the concave surface of the retainer 26, thereby eliminating or reducing gaps through the material which may permit the escape of gas of the inflator 18.
In accordance with the provisions of the patent statutes and jurisprudence, exemplary configurations described above are considered to represent a preferred embodiment of the invention. However, it should be noted that the invention can be practiced otherwise than as specifically illustrated and described without departing from its spirit or scope. For example, although the invention is described with respect to a passenger front airbag, it could also be used for any airbag location. Alphanumeric identifiers on method steps are for convenient reference in dependent claims and do not signify a required sequence of performance unless otherwise indicated in the claims.
1. An airbag comprising:
- a front panel portion;
- a perimeter portion circumscribing an opening opposite the front panel portion, the perimeter portion connected to the front panel portion; and
- a center tab attaching a side portion of the airbag to the perimeter portion of the airbag to conform a lower surface of the perimeter portion to a concave shape.
2. The airbag of claim 1 further including an end panel attached to the side portion, the end panel including the center tab.
3. The airbag of claim 2 wherein the end panel further includes a pair of side tabs integral therewith and extending freely from the airbag.
4. The airbag of claim 3 wherein the end panel is sewn to the side portion and wherein the center tab is sewn to the perimeter portion.
5. The airbag of claim 3 wherein the side tabs each include an opening therethrough.
6. The airbag of claim 3 wherein the end panel is a first end panel and further including a second end panel attached to the side portion opposite the first end panel, the second end panel having a center tab secured to the perimeter portion to hold the perimeter portion of the airbag in a concave position.
7. A method for shaping an airbag including the steps of:
- a) securing a first center tab to a side portion of an airbag, the side portion between a front panel portion and an opening to the airbag, the opening opposite the front panel portion; and
- b) securing the first center tab to the airbag adjacent the opening in order to conform an area of the airbag adjacent the opening to a concave shape.
8. The method of claim 7 further including the step of:
- c) attaching a first end panel to the side portion of the airbag, the first end panel including the first center tab.
9. The method of claim 8 further including the steps of:
- d) attaching a second end panel to the side portion of the airbag opposite the first end panel, the second panel including a second center tab extending therefrom; and
- e) attaching the second center tab to the airbag adjacent the opening to conform the area adjacent the opening to a concave shape.
10. The method of claim 8 wherein the first end panel further includes a pair of side tabs extending freely therefrom.
11. An airbag assembly comprising:
- a retainer including a pair of rails between which extend a plurality of arches, the plurality of arches defining a concave interior surface; and
- an airbag having a front panel section and a perimeter portion circumscribing an opening opposite the front panel portion, the retainer at least substantially disposed within the airbag, the perimeter portion having a concave shape to match the concave interior surface of the retainer.
12. The airbag assembly of claim 11 further including a center tab attached to a side portion of the airbag and to the perimeter portion of the airbag to conform the perimeter portion to the concave shape, wherein the concave shape is formed adjacent the opening.
13. The airbag assembly of claim 12 further including an end panel attached to the side portion, the end panel including the center tab.
14. The airbag assembly of claim 13 wherein the end panel further includes a pair of side tabs integral therewith, the pair of side tabs secured to the retainer.
15. The airbag of claim 13 wherein the end panel is sewn to the side portion and wherein the center tab is sewn to the perimeter portion.
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Filed: Dec 14, 2009
Date of Patent: May 24, 2011
Patent Publication Number: 20100156075
Assignee: Toyoda Gosei Co. Ltd.
Inventors: Peter L. Vigeant (Whitmore Lake, MI), David Laird Geyer (Sterling Heights, MI), Robert Andrew Parks (Berkley, MI)
Primary Examiner: Paul N Dickson
Assistant Examiner: Robert A Coker
Attorney: Carlson, Gaskey & Olds PC
Application Number: 12/637,068
International Classification: B60R 21/16 (20060101);